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Med Sci Monit 2009; 15(3): CS49-53
Respiratory failure in severely hypophosphatemic patients has been attributed to respiratory muscle weakness, leading to ventilatory failure. While frequently documenting hypercarbic respiratory failure, previous reports of hypophosphatemia-related respiratory failure in patients otherwise free of pulmonary or airway disease often did not provide sufficient information on gas exchange and pulmonary function, precluding inference on alternative or additional sources of respiratory dysfunction in this population.
Material and Method: We report a case of acute hypoxic respiratory failure in a 26 year-old bulimic woman with severe hypophosphatemia. The patient presented with acute onset of dyspnea, paresthesias, limb shaking, and severe hyperventilation. SpO2 was 74%, requiring administration of 100% O2, with normal chest radiograph. Serum phosphate was <0.3 mmol/liter (1.0 mg/dL). Further evaluation did not support pulmonary, vascular, neurogenic or external exposure-related causes of hypoxic respiratory failure, which rapidly resolved with parenteral correction of hypophosphatemia.
Conclusions: To date, hypoxic respiratory failure has not been reported in association with hypophosphatemia. Increased awareness and further investigations can help elucidate the mechanisms of hypophosphatemia-associated hypoxemia.